The global fine jewellery market is “an inefficient, messy industry with very few big players,” says Joanne Ooi, founder and creative director of Plukka, the Hong Kong-based fine jewellery company.
“The fine jewellery market is very, very fragmented, localised and inefficient,” Ooi told Inside Retail Weekly in Australia.
Founded at the end of 2011, Plukka was first launched as an online-only designer jewellery retailer. Today, it has an omnichannel business model, retailing designer products as well as its own private label stock.
Plukka has a flagship boutique in Hong Kong and will open a second store in London in February. The business aims to open six boutiques by the end of 2017.
Ooi said Plukka’s model, “happens to be revolutionary because of how backward the jewellery industry has been”.
Apart from mono-brands, such as Tiffany and Cartier, most independent jewellery designers are stocked locally and have to deal with each retailer or department store individually to range their products.
According to a report from McKinsey, the 10 biggest jewellery groups capture just 12 per cent of the worldwide market.
Ooi said Plukka is stepping into a supplier side void, offering independent designers international marketing and distribution.
“Think of the jewellery industry as being 20 years behind the fashion industry,” she said. “That’s where we are.”
Plukka listed on the Australian Stock Exchange last month via a reverse takeover of investment company, Continuation Investments Limited. The float raised about US$7.5 million, which will be used to fund the brand’s expansion plans, with a focus on the US market.
Ooi said the company chose to list in Australia, because there is a demand for small cap stocks like Plukka, and because it meets the listing requirements in terms of the age and size of the company.
Currently there are no plans to open a boutique in Australia, however Ooi said she takes an opportunistic approach to real estate and would consider a favourable location, such as within a casino, with a small footprint, if the opportunity arose.
Plukka’s channel strategy is centred around the knowledge that jewellery is a high sensory involvement category and consumers still want a real life encounter with the product.
As well as the boutiques, Plukka has trunk shows and a view on demand service, an online platform which allows clients to “summon” products to their home or office to try on, before deciding if they will buy them.
Ooi believes the model is the correct intersection of tech for the category.
“Are you really going to buy the ear cuff after you see it worn by your virtual avatar on your computer screen?,” Ooi said. “You still would really strongly like to see it on your ear in-person.”